Amusement Park Goers Trapped Upside Down for Half-Hour After Ride Malfunctions: Oaks Incident, Explained

The malfunction left riders afraid for their lives, they said.

An amusement park ride in Portland, Oregon malfunctioned on Friday, June 14, trapping occupants upside down for about 30 minutes. The pendulum-style attraction is called "AtmosFEAR," and it has been a part of Oaks Amusement Park for years, according to Oregon Live. Photos and videos of the grueling experience went viral on social media.

A total of 28 people were securely belted into AtmosFEAR on Friday afternoon, anticipating a few minutes of swinging and a couple of complete 360-degree rotations. Somehow, the ride stopped at the "apex position," holding riders completely upside down about 99 feet in the air. They stayed that way for half an hour while park employees contacted emergency rescuers for help. Partway through the ordeal, the park was closed abruptly and all other guests were asked to "vacate the park immediately."


The ride got stuck and everyone is suspeneded upside down. This is terrfying. They just to close the park #scaryride #oakspark

♬ original sound – Chris Ryan

One of the people trapped on AtmosFEAR was taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution, but no one else was injured. One 44-year-old witness guessed that most of the people stuck on the ride were children and teenagers, including a large group there on a field trip. Oregon Live spoke to a 17-year-old rider who said bluntly: "I thought I was going to die."

Oaks Amusement Park issued a statement saying that the cause of this issue is unknown, but it appears to be a mechanical failure. The ride has operated without incident since 2021, and emergency safety training for the staff was conducted last year. The company said: "Oaks Park Management was in immediate contact with the manufacturer and will work with both the manufacturer and state inspectors to identify the cause of the stoppage."

The amusement park is offering refunds or rescheduling for guests whose visits were cut short on Friday, and it asked people to hang onto their bracelets in order to facilitate that process. Those guests can contact the park's office via phone or email. It's unclear if there will be a different way of compensating the people who were trapped on the AtmosFEAR for half an hour.

Oaks Park is the oldest existing amusement park in Oregon, first opened in 1905 as part of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. Today, it features rides like this one as well as carnival games, mini-golf and an indoor skating rink. The park is open at the time of this writing, and its website even still lists AtmosFEAR among its available attractions, though social media posts indicate that the ride is still closed. Posts about the incident last month are still picking up momentum on platforms like Instagram and TikTok right now.